Glasgow School of Art Fire

27-05-2014

    The iconic library at Glasgow School of Art has been lost in the fire which swept through the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building on Friday, along with the roof of the west wing.

    The library was recognised as being one of the finest examples of art nouveau in the world, and contained hundreds of rare periodicals, collections and countless works of art.

    Broadcaster Muriel Gray, who is the art school's chairwoman, said: "This is an enormous blow and we are understandably devastated."

    However, she revealed that the art school's archives were safe.

    Ms Gray, a former student at the school, confirmed that most of the building was still standing.

    "The most amazing, almost miraculous news is that the majority of the building is still intact," she said.

    "Due to one of the most astonishingly intelligent and professional pieces of strategy by the fire services, they succeeded in protecting the vast majority of the building, apparently by forming a human wall of firefighters up the west end of the main staircase and containing the fire."

    She added: "Also, after ensuring no lives were in peril, they displayed an impressive understanding of the precious nature of the building, and due to their careful and meticulous handling of each developing situation the damage is considerably less than we dreaded.

    "We have run out of words with which to thank them, but the school has most certainly gained a new gallery of heroes."

    Ms Gray, who had burst into tears when she saw the building on fire, also confirmed that many students had lost some, or all, of their work, but other work had been preserved.

    The whole campus will remain closed until Friday to allow the fire-damaged areas of the building to be cleared of anything that can be salvaged.

    She said curators and academic staff were hoping to be allowed into the building in the next few days to assess what could be salvaged.

    "Our main concern right now is the welfare of the students and the impending graduation and everyone is working hard together to achieve the best outcome for all."

    The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said more than 90% of the structure was viable and they had protected up to 70% of the contents.

    The fire service has yet to confirm the cause of the blaze, which some students have suggested could have started in the basement when a spark from a projector caught a piece of foam.

    The UK government has said it would make a significant contribution towards the costs of restoring the building.

    Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said it would contribute "in the millions, if necessary" to restore a "priceless gem".

    Everyone who had been in the packed building was said to have escaped safely.



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